South Africa: COVID-9 and the Chance for Ramaphosa's Reputation to Soar


The coronavirus pandemic is a black swan event. In the few months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in November 2019, all kinds of things have changed. Many of the world's great cities are shut down and governments are intervening in economies in ways that were unimaginable in November 2019.

As the Coronavirus crisis gathers momentum our lives will continue to change in dramatic ways, and the global health crisis seems sure to turn into a serious and global economic crisis. China has emerged from the crisis with its reputation greatly enhanced. There are many legitimate criticisms of the Chinese state but it's now generally acknowledged that China dealt with the crisis in a manner far superior to that of right-wing populists like Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson.

Our own government had been suffering a serious legitimation crisis in the wake of its collapse into kleptocracy under Jacob Zuma, and perceptions of Cyril Ramaphosa's weakness in dealing with the remnants of the kleptocrats. It is true that there have been significant failures, such as the inclusion of tainted people in government, and the failure to effect arrests and prosecutions of politicians, and the leaders of...

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